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i.MX8X Lite takes on IIoT and Vehicle-to-Everything applications

Oct 7, 2021 — by Eric Brown 526 views

NXP has launched a headless “i.MX8X Lite” SoC for automotive telematics, V2X, and IIoT, with up to 2x Cortex-A35 cores plus a Cortex-M4 core and a security block with V2X acceleration and NXP EdgeLock security.

Automotive telematics was one of the key applications mentioned by NXP when it announced the up to quad-core, Cortex-A35 i.MX8X system-on-chip back in 2017. Now, NXP has announced a headless, 1x or 2x -A35 i.MX8X Lite variant with an even greater emphasis on telematics and a special focus on emerging automotive systems that support V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything) communications.

The Linux-driven SoC is also suitable for industrial IoT applications that require low power consumption, security, and connectivity, but do not require graphics. NXP announced the i.MX8X Lite via sites such as NewElectronics.

i.MX8X Lite block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The i.MX8X Lite lacks the 4-shader Vivante GPU, multi-format VPU, and Tensilica HiFi 4 DSP of the i.MX8X, which is typically clocked up to 1.2GHz on products such as Arrow’s AI-ML Board SBC. Cortex-A35 is known primarily for its low power consumption.


The Lite SoC adds a more advanced security block with NXP’s EdgeLock technology and a V2X accelerator. NXP expects the security module will meet FIPS 140-3 requirements.

Memory and I/O support is much like that of the already automotive-friendly i.MX8X, with features such as 3x CAN/CAN-FD connections. The SoC ships with a Linux BSP.

V2X refers to fast vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-person (V2P), and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) connectivity. NXP mentions only V2V and V2I support for the i.MX8X Lite, which it says: “offers carmakers the opportunity to expand V2X benefits to entry level vehicles and enables fleet management for automated vehicles, reducing operational costs via enhanced traffic control, improved traffic flow and optimized path planning.”

The i.MX8X Lite enables V2V links via IEEE 802.11p, 5G, and other cellular communications, “creating a network of similarly equipped vehicles to ‘see’ further ahead, says NXP. The SoC also provides for V2I communications with smart roads, bridges, and roadside units to obtain information about upcoming road conditions. The 802.11p standard for V2X, which we have seen on telematics computers such as Laird’s Open Platform and on Qualcomm’s X12 LTE chip for its automotive focused Snapdragon 820A SoC, is used by modems that adopt the leading DSRC (Direct Short Range Communication) V2X standard.

The i.MX8X Lite’s V2X accelerator “can be leveraged as part of NXP’s RoadLink V2X solution or as a standalone accelerator,” says NXP. RoadLink V2X, which was adopted by Volkswagen for its Golf 8 cars, is built around NXP’s RoadLINK SAF5400 DSRC modem for V2X developed in collaboration with Cohda Wireless. The RoadLINK SAF5400 runs Linux on an i.MX6 UL and is available with an EVK.

RoadLINK SAF5400 block diagram and EVK (left), which is built into Cohda’s MK5 OBU
(click images to enlarge)

Today at ITS World Congress in Hamburg, Germany, NXP announced a V2X equipped electric bicycle prototype created in collaboration with Riese & Müller. The prototype uses Cohda’s MK5 OBU V2X gateway, which is equipped with NXP’s RoadLINK SAF5400.

V2X edges closer

V2X was originally envisioned as a technology for controlling traffic — and thereby reducing traffic jams and accidents — via smart roads. With enough intelligence in the infrastructure, V2X was seen as a path towards self-driving car technology with lightweight in-car computing and sensors.

With advances in AI and lowering costs for LiDAR, cameras, sensors, and computers, the focus returned to largely autonomous self-driving vehicles. Yet as self-driving systems have run up against some technological challenges that are keeping regulators on the fence, the industry is moving toward a convergence of autonomous and V2X technologies to make both technologies safer.

As explained in this recent Automotive World report on V2X, the technology offers many benefits that do not require autonomous cars. The story cites a U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimate (PDF) that projects that V2V alone could reduce traffic accidents by 13 percent, resulting in over 400,000 fewer crashes each year.

V2X can ensure “seamless interchanges, rerouting journeys away from congestion, dynamically updating traffic controls, allocating parking more efficiently,” says Automotive World. V2X could also ease multi-mode transportation handoffs, such as “booking a ride-share to get from your home to a station, walking straight onto the train into the city, then picking up an electric bicycle at the other end to get you to the office.” The technology could also be used to streamline smart grid charging applications in which electric vehicles could either charge or discharge, depending on grid requirements.

V2X still faces huge challenges, primarily in the cost of adding V2X communications to roads, but also with security. A hack of a self-driving car could be tragic, but a V2X hack would be catastrophic. In addition to piling on more security, as in products such as the i.MX8X Lite and RoadLINK SAF5400, one proposed solution uses Blockchain. The Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) project is working towards a set of standards.

Originally, privacy was a concern with V2X. Yet now that even a “dumb” car is likely to have a driver or passenger with a GPS-equipped smartphone, that boat has already sailed,

The increasing adoption of the DSRC standard, including an endorsement by the FCC in the US, is helping to push V2X forward. Yet, there is a competing standard called C-V2X, which is built around 4G and 5G. Its backers include the Chinese government and cellular chipmakers like Qualcomm. DSRC, which supports ad hoc implementations of the WiFi-like 802.11p, has the advantage of being more decentralized and less expensive. C-V2X, however, is likely to offer higher data transfer, which could give it an edge going forward, says Automotive World.

Further information

The i.MX8X Lite was “released,” which probably means it is sampling. No pricing or production availability information was provided. More information may be found on NXP’s i.MX8X Lite product page.

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